by John Moore, former Mayor Pro Tem, Town of Lake Lure

Thank you all for the feedback and positive responses to last month’s Mountain Breeze article on “Preserving Lake Lure for Future Generations.”  It is important for our citizens to be aware of the issues our Town is facing and we also need ongoing input and support from our constituents to help us make the best decisions for our Town as we move forward to address important priorities. 

Congressman Patrick McHenry ExchangesDialogue with Lake LureConstituents at a PublicForum in Lake Lure Town Hall on 8/7/19

I would encourage everyone to participate in our monthly Town Council Meetings which are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 5:00 in the Municipal Hall at 2948 Memorial Highway.  The purpose of these meetings is to exchange information, receive updates and to make decisions on key issues that impact our Town.  The meetings generally last an hour and a half and we hope you will find them informative.  The agenda is always posted online in advance of the meeting and the minutes that summarize the meetings are available online as well at www.townoflakelure.com.   We are currently discussing critical infrastructure matters that the Town is working on diligently, including the dam renovation, our sewer system replacement, the new Chimney Rock State Park egress that is being planned by the NC Department of Transportation, dredging to maintain the quality of our lake, enhanced Wi-Fi and telecommunications in our area, and marina, park and trail improvements, just to name a few.  I will take this opportunity to provide a few updates here on significant topics so you will be aware of the efforts that are underway.   

Dam Renovations: Town staff has been working closely with the North Carolina State Dam Safety Engineering Office through the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) to apply for a rehabilitation grant through the National Dam Safety Program.  The focus of this grant is for planning, engineering, and design work.  There were hundreds of applicants for this grant so we are uncertain if the project will be awarded, but we are attempting to secure national funding to support these necessary and costly renovations.  Congressman Patrick McHenry visited Lake Lure on 8/7/19 and held a public forum where he mentioned his support for the Town’s investment in infrastructure and he has written a letter of support for our grant application for the dam.

Sewer System Replacement: The Town is continuing to work to implement a land-based, low-pressure sewage collection system.  The next step in this effort is the completion of an Engineering Report that will be submitted to NCDEQ. Simultaneously, the Town has hired a geotechnical engineer, Bunnell-Lammons Engineering, Inc. (BLE) to assist with the project.  BLE is running ground penetrating radar and taking soil boring samples to find where rock is located.  This evaluation will support future planning as the project moves forward.

Public Wi-Fi:  The Town recognizes the importance of wireless fidelity “Wi-Fi” for the Lake Lure area.  In an effort to enhance and expand Wi-Fi opportunities for our citizens and guests while they enjoy Morse Park, the Lake Lure Beach and Town Center areas, the Town is currently reviewing requests for proposals for this service and anticipates having work begin on these enhancements in the not too distant future.  Also, Town staff is in continuous dialogue with a consultant working toward acquiring all necessary easements for the siting of a wireless telecommunication facility within the Town.  We realize that this communication facility is a necessary asset for our community and we will keep you posted on our progress in this area.

Public Forum with Duke Energy at the Town of Lake Lure on 2/12/19.

Duke Energy Power Enhancements: In February 2019 a public meeting was held with Duke Energy to discuss improving local power service. We believe this forum and the Town’s continuous dialogue and coordination with Duke Energy Officials has made an impact.  Duke Energy has announced that they are about to begin work on a project that will help to increase reliability to the Lake Lure area. From August to around mid-November, multiple crews will be working to upgrade the feeder tie that runs south down Hwy 9 to the Mill Springs area. This will include installing bigger wire and taller poles. This is part of Duke’s long range strategy to enhance reliability to Lake Lure by strengthening the ties to other feeders and substations in the area.

Much of the work will be done right along Hwy 9 so motorists are encouraged to be aware of work zones and pay attention to flaggers. We expect there will be occasional lane closures, but crews will work to minimize impacts to the public.

We are pleased this project is being implemented this fall and look forward to the benefits that this long term strategy will bring to customers in our area.

The Town of Lake Lure is working hard to address these State mandated infrastructure repairs, renovations and replacements that are needed to maintain our beautiful Town for our citizens and for all those who visit the Hickory Nut Gorge.  In addition to this challenging work, our Town is gearing up to support year-round activities and events that will attract visitors and future citizens to our area.  We hope you will support these upcoming festivals which have become signature events for our Town:

  • September 13-14, 2019: Dirty Dancing Festival Sponsored by the Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge
  • October 19-20, 2019: Lake Lure Arts and Crafts Festival Sponsored by the Hickory Nut Gorge

Outreach

  • November 9, 2019: Lake Lure Annual Artist Show and Sale Sponsored by the Lake Lure Artists

Lake Levels: The Marine Commission held a special public forum on 8/13/19 to discuss and gather input on the cycle and timing of lowering the lake.  Thank you to the approximately 65 people who participated in the meeting. The purpose of lowering the lake during the offseason is to allow lakefront property owners to maintain their lake structures, including boathouses, docks and seawalls.  By having a schedule in place, property owners can plan for the desired work and have a contractor and permits in place prior to the lake being lowered.  The Town has lowered the lake between 4-5 feet on a three year cycle in the past.

The Marine Commission presented the pros and cons associated with lowering the lake for these reasons during the meeting.  Citizens had the opportunity to express their opinions as individuals and by a show of hands so the Marine Commission could assess the number of people in the room who supported various options for lowering the lake.  Ultimately, the Marine Commission voted to begin the drawdown of the lake on December 1, 2019, and to begin raising the lake to full pond on February 10, 2020.  Town Staff requested that the lake be lowered for at least thirty days to replace a valve in the sewer line mandated by the state.  The Town retains the ability to lower the lake at other times, as necessary, due to the weather, maintenance, dredging, construction, or for evaluation/inspections.

As we continue our work to enhance the beauty and infrastructure of Lake Lure, we will be electing new officials that will support this ongoing work.  Your participation in this process is critical and I encourage you all to get out and vote in November.